What Is Inflammation and Why Does It Matter?

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Inflammation is an essential function of your body’s immune response, but even a little too much inflammation can cause you health problems. You don’t have to have pain or swelling in your body to have too much inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s response to injury and stress, hurdles many of us deal with on a day-to-day basis.

Inflammation Can Be Causative Factor In Many Major Diseases

Research has linked inflammation to all major debilitating conditions, including:

  1. Alzheimer’s:  Evidence suggests that neuroinflammation, created by the brain’s own immune system, contributes to AD neuropathology and increases the course of Alzheimer’s.
  2. Arthritis
  3. Heart disease
  4. Cancer
  5. Signs of aging. Researchers can’t be sure if inflammation causes aging or aging causes inflammation, or both, but they are sure that the two are linked.
  6. Diabetes: Research shows inflammation causes insulin resistance and insulin resistance causes more inflation to create a vicious cycle.

From Where Does Inflammation Originate?

The stress that causes this inflammation can come from a number of sources. These include:

  • Physical stress. (Bruising or straining a muscle, burns and frostbite.)
  • Chronic low grade bacterial, viral and fungal infections.
  • Chronic low level food allergies or food sensitivities.
  • Emotional stress – which raises cortisol levels. (Cortisol increases inflammation)
  • Toxicity from the environment: metals and other contaminates in the water and air.
  • Toxicity in our diet: too much fat, sugar, protein, and alcohol.
  • Obesity: Fat cells produce chemistry that creates inflammation.

How Inflammation Works in the body:

Project Be Moved - Inflammation BrainWhatever the source of inflammation, the bodies response is similar. Turn up the body’s immune system so that it can fight all these intruders.

For example: When you cut yourself the body automatically increases blood flow to the area and sends in (among other things) killer white blood cells to surround any invading bacteria and “burn” the bacteria up with oxidative chemicals. It is like a protective army destroying invaders. This is called acute inflammation–an amazing process that protects us.

Unfortunately, we have so many stressors in our lives that this “war” ends up going on forever. In any war there is collateral damage and, in this case, some of that collateral damage is to healthy tissue

Sometimes, the body just doesn’t know when to stop. It loses its ability to distinguish between the good guys and the invading bacteria or viruses. It ends up attacking the healthy tissues and upsetting delicate chemical and hormonal balances that keep all our systems running properly. This is just one process where long term or chronic inflammation is involved.

How to reduce inflammation:

The start of reducing inflammation is reducing stress. Since this stress can come from a number of sources (as described above) there are many ways to do this.

  • Avoiding or removing certain foods from your diet. These include too much sugar, fat, protein, alcohol and any food your may be allergic or sensitive to.
  • Maintain proper weight
  • Proper exercise:  This typically means low-intensity or mild-intensity workouts.
  • Healthy fats: Most westerners are low in omega 3 fats, which reduce inflammation. These include flax oil, fish oils (wild is better) and Brazil nuts.
  • Beets; that red color is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
  • Green leafy vegetables like spinach and lettuce contain carotenoids, one kind of inflammation-reducing antioxidant
  • Onions and garlic. Contain quercetin, a potent antioxidant that can help your body fight inflammation.
  • Turmeric and Ginger: many herbs and spices reduce inflammation because of their concentrated antioxidants but turmeric is king for this.